The Executive Order!

3 mn read

Close on the heels of the formation of the Frontier Model Forum and a White House announcement that it had secured “voluntary commitments” from seven leading A.I companies to self-regulate the risks posed by artificial intelligence, President Joe Biden, yesterday issued an executive order regulating the development and ensuring safe and secure deployment of artificial intelligence models . The underlying principles of the order can be summarized in the picture.

The key aspects of the order focus on what is termed “dual-use foundation models” – models that are trained on broad data, uses self-supervision, and can be applied in a variety of contexts. Typically the generative AI models like GPT fall into this category, although, the order is aimed at the next generation of models beyond GPT-4.

Let’s look at what are the key aspects of what the order says in this part. Whilst the order talks about the

Safe & Secure AI

  • The need for safe and secure AI through thorough testing – even sharing test results with the government for critical systems that can impact national security, economy, public health and safety
  • Build guidelines to conduct AI red-teaming tests that involves assessing and managing the safety, security, and trustworthiness of AI models
  • The need to establish provenance of AI generated content
  • Ensure that compute & data are not in the hands of few colluding companies and ensuring that new businesses can thrive [This is probably the biggest “I don’t trust you” statement back to Big Tech!]

AI Education / Upskilling

  • Given its criticality, the need for investments in AI related education, training, R&D and protection of IP.
  • Support for programs to provide Americans with the skills they need for the age of AI and attract the world’s AI talent, via investments in AI-related education, training, development, research, and capacity and IP development
  • Encouraging AI skills import into the US [probably the one that most Indian STEM students who hope to study and work in the US will find a reason to cheer]

Protection Of Rights

  • Ensuring the protection of civil rights, protection against bias & discrimination, rights of consumers (users)
  • Lastly, also the growth of governmental capacity to regulate, govern and support for responsible AI.

Development of guidelines & standards

  • Building up on the Blueprint AI Bill of Rights & the AI Risk Management Framework, to create guidance and benchmarks for evaluating and auditing AI capabilities, particularly in areas where AI could cause harm, such as cybersecurity and biosecurity

Protecting US Interests

  • The regulations also propose that companies developing or intending to develop potential dual-use foundation models to report to the Govt on an ongoing basis their activities w.r.t training & assurance on the models and the the results of any red-team testing conducted
  • IaaS providers report on the security of their infrastructure and the usage of compute (large enough to train these dual use foundation models), as well as its usage by foreign actors who train large AI models which could be used for malafide purposes

Securing Critical Infrastructure

  • With respect to critical infrastructure, the order directs that under the Secretary Homeland Security, an AI Safety & Security Board is established, composed of AI experts from various sectors, to provide advice and recommendations to improve security, resilience, and incident response related to AI usage in critical infrastructure
  • All critical infrastructure is assessed for potential risks (vulnerabilities to critical failures, physical attacks, and cyberattacks) associated with the use of AI in critical infrastructure.
  • An assessment to be undertaken of the risks of AI misuse in developing threats in key areas like CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) & bio sciences

Data Privacy

  • One section of the document deals with mitigating privacy risks associated with AI, including an assessment and standards on the collection and use of information about individuals.
  • It also wants to ensure that the collection, use, and retention of data ensures that privacy and confidentiality are respected
  • Also calls for Congress to pass Data Privacy legislation

Federal Government Use of AI

  • The order encourages the use of AI, particularly generative AI, with safeguards in place and appropriate training, across federal agencies, except for national security systems.
  • It also calls for an interagency council to be established to coordinate AI development and use.

Finally, the key element – keeping America’s leadership in AI strong – by driving efforts to expand engagements with international allies and establish international frameworks for managing AI risks and benefits as well as driving an AI research agenda.

In subsequent posts, we will look at reactions, and what it means for Big Tech and for the Indian IT industry which is heavily tied to the US!

One thought on

The Executive Order!

  • Yeshwant Satam

    UK, EU, and UN are showing action on rules around AI. 127 countries have already passed AI-related laws. With dysfunctional US Congress in the US, it had to put its stake in the governance space, though delayed. The executive order (EO) is the route it has taken.

    What is unusual about the EO is invoking requirements that are related to National Security usually. Companies are expected to share the tests. This will mostly invite pushback from Private Sector due to company secrets concerns.

    Though this EO is right step in right direction, the EO has limited authority compared to US Congress passed legislation. But with poor track record of US Congress in regulating digital space, as evident from failure in Social Media case, enforcement of this EO would be a challenge. For example, one of the coalitions of trade associations and technology firms, Netchoice, states that – “Broad regulatory measures in Biden’s AI red tape wish list will result in stifling new companies and competitors from entering the marketplace and significantly expanding the power of the federal government over American innovation”. (https://netchoice.org/biden-releases-ai-red-tape-wishlist-in-new-executive-order/).

    So, for US government it’s a long road ahead as it will need to secure buy-in from all the private, government, and international stakeholders in this arena.

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